Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Its hands are clean

Share

Has the smearing of Craig Murray, formerly the UK's ambassador to Uzbekistan, been successful? Murray famously went off-message by accusing the British government of complicity in torture, but the bare bones in Murray's claims have never been denied by the Government. In time-honoured fashion, though, the establishment closed ranks, whispering that he had lost the plot. (His cause was not helped by the fact that he had an affair with a stripper, admits to enjoying a drink and doesn't put his career above all else.)

Last week, giving evidence to the Joint Human Rights Committee, he accused Jack Straw and Tony Blair of changing UK policy on the admission of intelligence gained by torture. He said the UK's policy about evidence from torture had changed post 9/11. When he raised it with the Foreign Office he says he was told "This is the policy... we will accept intelligence that has come from torture as long as we don't do the torture ourselves". So when Straw and David Miliband say we don't "condone" (rather than "gratefully receive the results of") torture, they choose their words carefully. Curious that Murray's remarks were barely noticed in the press.

Best-known for his screenplays of Gladiator and Shadowlands, William Nicholson has found himself at the centre of a small drama with his new novel, The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life. When friend and neighbouring writer Elisa Segrave read a proof, she was appalled by a passage in which a small white dog called Perry is beaten to death by a farmer for chasing sheep. Segrave, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, is known in literary circles for her small white dog called Perry, named after friend Sir Peregrine Worsthorne. "Perry doesn't chase sheep. He should sue for slander," said Sir Peregrine when told. But Nicholson is contrite: "I didn't want to kill either Perry," he tells me, "My wife goes walking with Elisa and somewhere in the midst of time the name must have stuck in my brain."

The Hay Festival has enough internal politics without professionals from Westminster wading in. At a reception to launch the literary shin-dig on the House of Commons terrace last week, Hazel Blears revealed she is launching a class war on culture by going to Hay this year. "I want the arts to be for everyone," she told me. "Lowry painted everyday people; that's what the arts should be about." While she might be storming the bookish Bastille during the day, she'll be well looked after at night. She's been invited to stay with Adam Boulton in a grand manor house rented by Sky. Vive la révolution!

He is hailed as one of the greatest travel writers of the 20th century, but Patrick Leigh Fermor is not up to much, says Sebastian Faulks. The bestselling author of Birdsong tells me that despite several attempts he has never been able to get through Leigh Fermor's seminal book, A Time of Gifts, saying "He's a bit of an old windbag isn't he?" Faulks was on garrulous form at the Hatchards' authors party last week, turning his sights on Joan Bakewell too. "Why's she gone and written a novel? Everyone thinks they can do one now." Next up, Debo Devonshire: "Why has she written another book? They can't be short of money can they?" Watch out!

Energetic PR consultant Anne Jenkin is feared and revered by top Tories, including Dave and Boris. But the wife of former Tory vice-chairman Bernard was reduced to a giggling schoolgirl when she ran into Today presenter Ed Stourton at the launch party of Nicholas Coleridge's novel Deadly Sins last week. Hurling herself at Stourton, she asked his wife to take a picture of them both. "My mother doesn't believe I know people like you," she explained. "We are great fans and I have to provide evidence that I met you."

Bibulous ex-Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens makes his living in the US and is so adored over there they want him to be honoured. Forbes magazine is calling for him to be knighted, praising his "erudition, intellectual courage, bloody-minded wit and near sacramental love of the grape". As one wit quips, "They hold most Buckingham Palace investitures before lunch so a knighthood should not be totally out of the question."

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living